Classical Education at St. Paul's

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Classical education primarily concerns itself with the cultivation of wisdom in students in order that they may acquire the skills necessary to remain life-long lovers of truth, beauty and goodness.

Finding roots in ancient practices, St Paul’s joins a centuries-old educational tradition, delivering a unique schooling option for the children of southwest Oklahoma City.  Classical education primarily concerns itself with the cultivation of wisdom in students in order that they may acquire the skills necessary to remain life-long lovers of truth, beauty and goodness. At St. Paul’s the trivium forms the core of our classical philosophy of education.

Constituted by the three liberal arts of grammar, dialectic and rhetoric, the ancient wisdom of the trivium structures the methods of education, guiding not only what we teach, but also how we teach.  The trivium serves as much as a method as a curricular content.  It demands that we introduce students to the best books of a culture, handing down the beauty and wisdom of the past for growth into the future.  Alongside traditional subjects like algebra, history and biology we believe music, drama, art and gym form a crucial piece of our curriculum by enlivening the affections and imaginations of students.

Classical Christian education is language-intensive, which involves introducing students to the study of Latin. Not only do many modern European languages derive from Latin, but its study helps students develop broader thinking skills necessary to successfully interacting with God’s good world.  Similarly, the formal study of logic in the middle school years and the formal study of rhetoric in the highs school years round out a vision of education that equips students to fare well in the world beyond the classroom.

Traditionally four further arts, astronomy, music, mathematics and geometry, known as the quadrivium, follow the foundation set by the trivium arts.  Taken together these seven liberal arts encompass a foundational curriculum, enabling students to master not just great works of art, literature and Scripture but also chemistry, biology and calculus.

A classical education conceives each topic of study as interdependent with others. There are no stand-alone topics; rather, each piece fits into a larger whole.

The Trivium offers, not simply the subjects of grammar, logic and rhetoric, but a method of study of each subject area taught at St Paul’s.  Each subject contains a grammar (truths to be known), a dialectic (connections to be understood), and a rhetoric (wisdom to be expressed). Thus, emphasis is given to each of these three aspects when studying everything from Latin to Logic, from Physics to Philosophy, from Scripture to Science.  

Further, a classical education conceives each topic of study as interdependent with others. There are no stand-alone topics; rather, each piece fits into a larger whole.  All subjects integrate, uniting truth in as yet unknown ways. History, therefore, is taught alongside mathematics, proper sentence syntax side-by-side with Paul’s missionary journeys.  Subjects are not kept separate from one another; all are joined together in Christ’s beautiful tapestry of truth, beauty and goodness.

St Paul’s curriculum reflects this deep interconnection between knowledge, understanding and wisdom, between truth, beauty and goodness, between faith, hope and love. Developing this sense of the interrelated nature of all truth, beauty and goodness is a key ingredient in any educational story.  Shaping a student’s affections rightly orders her vision of God’s good world, enabling her to truly understand these connections and embody them in her very life for the love of God and of her neighbor.

A classical education begins in wonder and the expanding of the child’s imaginative world. Doing so allows them to participate in truth, rather than merely memorize facts. Learning the great truths of God’s world through chanting, singing, and play enliven the imaginations and creativity of children.  Primed to receive vast amounts of truth, students are ready to embrace it through hands-on, incarnational learning, via embodied exploration of the world.

No truth may be understood on its own but finds meaning ultimately in relation to other truths.

As students grow, classical pedagogy demonstrates evermore fully that all knowledge belongs to a more cohesive whole, a whole which comes into focus only in light of the truths learned.  No truth may be understood on its own but finds meaning ultimately in relation to other truths. Therefore classical education also involves training students to live out truth and understanding in wisdom, in order that they may become influential in their communities.  

Students develop skill in expression, able to rightly discern between good and evil in order that they may lead their communities well.  The hope of St Paul’s is to produce students capable of implementing a vision of their place in the kingdom of Christ for the good of Others.  

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